- Perhaps no event in the 19th century had a more significant impact on the city of Port Huron than the building of the international St Clair River tunnel, completed in 1891. It was considered the engineering marvel of the day and was the first tunnel of its kind in the world. My father had an original petition, signed by all the tunnel workers in 1890, requesting a 25 cent per hour pay increase. I think it still hangs on our farmhouse kitchen wall in Bright’s Grove, where my sister now resides.
- In 1897 three trainmen had lost their lives and several others in 1907 from the fumes given off by coal-burning locomotives. The problem of fumes was solved in 1907 by the use of electric-powered trains. The electrical generating plant is today the site of the Port Huron Seaway Terminal. In 1995 I was fortunate to ride in the historic last train through the old tunnel with my two sons and my mom, who funded the journey. The train, pulled by a steam locomotive, was relatively short but memorable. A new larger tunnel replaced the old tunnel in 1995.
- The original Bluewater Bridge, completed in 1938, was a cantilever bridge designed to support large amounts of traffic, constructed by a joint venture of the American Bridge Co. of New York and the Hamilton Bridge Co. in Ontario. The “old bridge” has a total length of 6178 feet.
- The “new” bridge, the second span, is a bowstring arch design with a total length of 6109 feet. It opened on July 22nd, 1997. The cost of renovating the old bridge in 1999 and building the new bridge was $62.5 million.
- The bridges replaced the several passenger ferries ran between Port Huron and Sarnia. The first license for a commercial passenger ferry was issued in 1936 to a Canadian named Compton, who operated a sailboat. In 1840, a man named Davenport, also from Sarnia, operated a pony powered vessel. (Probably pulled by a rope and harness) The first vessel capable of carrying automobiles did not arrive until 1921.
Blue Water Healthy Living thanks local historian, Derek Smith for his efforts in documenting Port Huron history. Look for his written accounts and photographs weekly on BWHL.